Back at the grind is an understatement for the last couple of weeks. Smooth is an over-relaxation of the path to say non the least. But again I can update what has been happening in and around Rutgers with me being the passenger or the driver.
Classes have been interesting again (seems always or maybe I am too optimistic). I am taking a class on Pattern Recognition that has managed to assault all my senses and has made me question my own intelligence a number of times. The methods discussed though have allowed me to understand some very interesting approaches in Machine Learning.
Well research is research. Some minor breakthroughs here and there and some stalled things on my task list there and there but it is moving on. Finding out why the curse of dimensionality is called the curse of dimensionality has also been interesting. I hate it but now have to find a way around it, or maybe as they say the best way is to go through. I also attended the New York Academy of Sciences Machine Learning Symposium in October. We had a poster there of some of our work presented by Monica Babes. Some highlights
- Yann Lecun's presentation on Deep Learning and his demonstration of a working system as well his students work on custom built FPGAs to actually facilitate the algorithms.
- Seeing and shortly talking to Alex Smola again. I met him first at the 2008 Machine Learning Summer school in Australia. He presented the tutorial on support vector machines, that I am now starting to appreciate more and more.He was in town and is now based at Yahoo Research.
- Discussions on Topic Models where also enlightening. Had never really thought about them much.
- All the student work that was presented and eligible for the best paper was very interesting.
- Learning a bit more about what my lab is currently working on was interesting.
- Headed to China Town after with our new Visiting Researcher from China. Was a good experience and some good food before heading back to work at the university.
Sort of Work
Well this one will be a bit of fun. The last two months have been a bit more interesting than normal in this case. I decided to accept and invitation to go to Washington for a day. Took my first trip on Amtrak through Delaware all the way to DC. Amtrak is great as a service, a bit expensive though. So why the Trip to DC you might ask? Well it was to attend a price giving of the J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding award for Bill and Melinda Gates for their work with the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. During the time I got a chance to meetup with the Fulbright Science and Technology Award staff and scholars in DC. You can check out the news blurb about the trip here. After the prize giving a met a couple of other people. I met another South African Fulbright Scholar I had not seen since orientation in 2009 as well as another researcher who works with organisation in South Africa on Education. I also got a chance to ask bill Gates an informal question at the reception and you can read about the question and the response on the Fulbright website.
While there I also got a chance to reconnect with a fellow camper from Camp Rising Sun. We both had attended camp in 2002 in Rhinebeck New York. It was great catching up and also learning a bit more about the great city that is Washington DC. Really thankful for him and his girlfriend allowing me to couch-surf. We visited the National Museum of the American Indian the next Day. Eye opener to put it mildly.
I think this one deserves a post just on its own. I will try to keep it brief. So I am a Fulbright Science and Technology scholar. You can check out my profile now on this page. I get to go on some great trips once in a while to learn, network and also experience the application of science in the greater scheme of things. This years Seminar for all the scholars in LA was the best I have been to yet. The trip included
- Visit to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles
- Visit and tour of NASA Jet Propulsion Lab
- Visit and talk at Caltech
- Visit and interesting presentations UCLA ArtSci center
- Paramount Studios
Again while on this trip got a chance to see another camp alum and good friend (You can see a pattern here). He is based in LA and we got a chance to see each other and visit Beverly Hills for about 2 hours. Again catching up. Talking about camp and making some connections for the future.
Bit of Fun
Yeah after all that what more can there be. Well the answer is Makerfaire 2010. Crazy day in NY again seeing all the makers and numerous projects everywhere. Enjoyed all the Arduino based projects. Got to know some new friends as well as enjoy science. Also got to get lost in Brooklyn in New York trying to find a place to withdraw money. It really was weird there are areas that have a liquor store in every corner but there is no grocer. We eventually found a Super Stop and Shop on the edge of Brooklyn and made it back. But it is sad that poor areas have such bad services.
Discovered Snagfilms. Great website for documentaries. The most interesting one I have seen so far is "His Big White Self" a film about Eugene Terreblanche and the AWB. There are other interesting South African films on there so if you have an our to grow your mind I would suggest you check it out. Music
- Girl Talk -> All Day
- The Freelance Whales -> Weathervanes
- Linkin Park -> A Thousand Suns
- Die Antwoord
Just over 1000 words. That is just a snapshot. Until the next one 🙂